Lance Zierlein and John Granato enjoyed a lot of radio success together before going in separate directions. But in the crazy world of sports talk radio, things have a way of coming full circle. Now after years apart and working at different companies, the two men are joining forces once again to try and reclaim their position as one of Houston’s best sports talk shows.
The talented duo will take over morning drive on ESPN 97.5 FM from 7a-9a starting Monday November 27th. The two men will remain on the air together from 9a-9:30a with midday host Raheel Ramzanali. Granato stays on with Ramzanali each day until 11am.
In taking over the morning slot, Zierlein and Granato gain the majority of hours which were previously occupied by ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike. Houston had been a market where ESPN Radio had performed well in mornings. The change leaves ESPN Radio’s new show with Trey Wingo and Mike Golic with two less hours of air time each day in one of its top rated markets.
“Reuniting John and Lance is a homerun”, said David Gow, CEO of Gow Media. “For years, people have asked me when those two could do a show again, and now the stars have aligned.”
Recognized by the Houston Press for Best Radio Show and as Best Radio Host, and a longtime analyst for NFL.com, Zierlein began his career at Sports Radio 610 before joining Granato for the launch of Gow Media’s 1560 AM in 2007. Zierlein had been a mainstay in mornings on SportsTalk 790 but elected to exit the radio station this past June, paving the way for Josh Innes to takeover the timeslot.
“I’m really excited about getting back together with John Granato and being part of what David Gow is building with 97.5, Sports Map and Culture Map,” says Zierlein. “John and I had the most talked-about show in Houston because of our chemistry and the fun we had on the air. That’s missing from a lot of the radio shows out there today. It’s time to bring that back in the mornings.”
Granato, who also enjoyed a successful ten-year run at 610, is equally excited about the benefits the new show will provide to his personal and professional relationship with Zierlein.
“It’s huge for me to have Lance back” added Granato. “Not only is he a great friend but I owe a lot to him in my career. And he’s one of the funniest guys I know. A lot of people woke up to us over the years. Hopefully they’ll be back and we’ll get a bunch of new people as well. I’m really excited about being in morning drive again (Except that whole waking up early thing).”
The addition of Zierlein is another big local move by Gow Media. The company previously convinced SportsTalk 790 afternoon host Charlie Pallilo to jump on board, and struck a deal to acquire CultureMap, an online social scene website that started in Houston and expanded to Austin and Dallas.
Reflecting on a busy 2017, David Gow believes bigger things are in store for his Houston-based multi-platform media company. “Lance caps off a great year for us”, observes Gow. “With Ken Hoffman, Charlie Pallilo and now Lance Zierlein joining our already-strong roster of talent, we believe we’ve built the ‘dream team’ that Houston’s sports fans are looking for”.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Barstool’s Big Cat Recalls Awkward Moment of Aaron Rodgers Interview
“If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently appeared on the Barstool Sports podcast, Pardon My Take, and the interview seemed to go well.
Podcast co-host, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, who is a die-hard Bears fan and well-documented Aaron Rodgers hater, relished in the fact that Rodgers agreed to take trash talk from him.
But there was one moment where things almost derailed.
Big Cat, in his weekly appearance on ESPN Chicago with Tom Waddle and Marc “Silvy” Silverman, talked about asking Rodgers how many grandmothers he had killed (A reference to Rodgers not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and his beliefs on vaccine mandates).
“That was a good lesson that PFT and I sometimes have to learn,” Big Cat said, before saying he saved the interview by finding a way out of the subject. “If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Katz said it was a moment where they had to pause and understand what they were actually asking and insinuating with Rodgers.
“That was one of those ones we really don’t live in the real world, so when we go out into the real world and we say something that we’ve been joking about within the confines of our studio on ears that haven’t heard those jokes before, it’s kind of like, ‘Wait what did you guys just say? Are you really joking about grandmothers that died from COVID?'” he said. “And then when you get it repeated back to you, you’re kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah that is kind of messed up. Right, good point.”
Katz mentioned Rodgers went with the whole bit for the interview the entire time. So while there was a brief second where things could’ve gone south, everyone just let it go.
“Score one for Aaron, but he was smiling,” Big Cat said. “It was all in good fun.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett News Media. He also works for ABC8 News and Newsradio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond, Virginia. His prior experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and iHeartradio Richmond. He can be reached by email at Jordan.E.Bondurant@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.
Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.
“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”
Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”
Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.
“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.
Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.
“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.
“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.
NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley
“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.
His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.
“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”
O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.
“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”